Wednesday, 14 May 2014

How to Google like a Boss

I have a bit of a reputation for googling everything. And I'm pretty good at it. I can find things in a flash- particularly helpful if you're sheltering in John Lewis on Oxford Street in a rain storm with a rumbling tummy, trying to find out if the burger place you read about on The Londoner is open yet. True story. The internet is a very big and very busy place- and here's my top tips on how to navigate it and get some answers.

1. Use quotation marks to search for specific terms. Searching topshop boots will find you everything that contains BOTH the words, but also everything that contains EITHER of the words. I just tried it and I got 16.7 million results. Including Boots the pharmacist. Not helpful. Add quotation marks, so search "topshop boots" and you will only get results than include both words in that order. I got 125,000 results- still a huge number, but much more manageable- and after the Topshop website, the next link was for Topshop boots on Ebay. Result.

2. Use two full stops to create ranges. Googling Ebay £1 £100 will, you've guessed it, get you results of everything that contains those three key words. And a whole host of others. Search instead for Ebay £1..£100 and you will only get results between those ranges. And now you're on track to exclude campervans that cost £50,000 and will make you cry into your supernoodles.

3. Create your own search engine. If you're on Google Chrome (and if you're not, you should be), then try this trick. Some websites have terrible search functions that just don't work. Instead of writing them a furious complaint letter that will get ignored by their poor IT guy, type the name of the website you want, e.g, then hit space and your search bar will only search that website. So shoes will search the ebay website for you using the mighty power of Google. Don't put up with substandard searching! You can also do this on the Google website, if you insist on not using chrome or your dinosaur boss makes everyone use internet explorer. Type site: then the website you want, then what you're looking for- e.g jewellery.

4. Know how to exclude things from your search. This is so easy and so helpful. You want to get a recipe for a great burger, but every time you search burger you end up on the awful corporate website of Burger King. You need to exclude the word king from your searches. Add a minus symbol in front and that is just what you'll do! Type burger -king and Google will eliminate all results with the word king in it. Ah, if only all jaguar owners knew they could avoid the local zoo popping up.

5. Know that you don't have to be a vocabulary genius. Fed up of looking up courgette recipes, then zucchini recipes because our American friends might have better ones? Then trying to work out the precise way to word what you want to get Google to find the damn rescipe so you can eat? Try this trick. A cleverly placed ~ symbol means Google also searches synonyms. OMG. So search ~courgette recipes and Google's built in dictionary will look up all words that mean the same as courgette. Genius.

6. STOP typing to Google as if it is your friend. The amount of people I know who type Where in Clapham London should I go for dinner tonight that isn't sushi is amazing. Google is not a person, it is a robot. A clever one, but it's never going to reply with I reckon that place on the corner whatshername recommended. The less words the better. Search Clapham Restaurants -Sushi and you might just be onto something.

7. Ask the expert. By far and away my biggest tip, use Google to find you an expert. If you want a cheap train ticket to Liverpool, don't search 'cheap train ticket to Liverpool'. Google is not an expert, it's a phone book. Search 'cheap train tickets'. About three results down (after the adverts- be careful!) you find moneysavingexpert. They look like they know what they're talking about more than robot Google. On their website, sure enough, they have a list of websites. I went through them and found a lesser known one, and actually saved £65 on a journey last week doing this.

8. Bookmark, bookmark, bookmark. I have a series of folders along my bookmarks bar. 'Work', 'Social', 'Useful', 'Blogs', 'London' etc etc. Pick what works for you. It's important to use folders or it gets messy. As you find little snippets around the internet bookmark them in the relevant folder. You might not be able to remember exactly what you searched to find that hidden gem again once you have all this variety.

9. Stop clicking the top result! These are almost always adverts. You can see the little 'ad' in orange next to it. It might be exactly the thing you're looking for, but the non-ad version is often underneath. It encourages Google to stop pushing the big fish to the top for revenue, and means you get more little, cheaper, minnows in your search results. Also, Google is the robot, not you. You're smarter than them.

10. A bonus one. Go to Google, and type 'do a barrel roll'. Just for the lols.

Happy searching! If you have any more tips, I'd love to hear them! Leave me a comment below.

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